When you need to raise funds for your K-12 project, group, classroom or school your options have been the same for years… decades even. We ask ourselves, “What should we sell this time?” Popular fundraisers include selling baked goods, candy bars, wrapping paper or candles. If you want to spice things up, try an activity like a car wash, auction or restaurant night.
Some of these will raise a fair amount of funds, but have you thought about what goes into creating and running some of these fundraisers? What about thinking about this from your potential funder’s perspective? They likely have little to no interest in what you are selling, but they really do want to support you and your cause. So is it really worth all the time and money you have to invest in organizing the fundraiser, and making your team exhausted from all of the effort it took to raise a mere $200?
In this blog, we will examine several components of a typical fundraiser and evaluate the entire campaign including; upfront costs, effort and time put in, potential for raising funds, and finally, the overall “bang for your buck”.
Upfront cost: $
Funds Raised: Low
Bang for your Buck: Low
For a tray of two-dozen brownies, you can expect to spend $5-$10 depending on if you bake or buy them. They will sell for $1 each for a total of $24. You net $14 a tray. That’s is not a lot of money above what you had spent PLUS when you add the time and effort you put into it (depending on if you baked or bought it) makes the impact low. Not the best ROI.
Upfront cost: $$
Funds Raised: High
Bang for your Buck: Low-Medium
With this type of fundraiser, you will have to buy the products you’ll be selling. You don’t have a guarantee that you will sell all of the products you purchased either. Next, you are relying on other people (often children) to sell for you. Now you have a hefty task of managing your sales force and process. This can include giving out the products and the sign up sheets to your team, collecting and tracking all sales and the monies (cash and checks) from the sales, putting together some marketing, and depending on children to get you all of this back flawlessly. Staying organized during the fundraiser is crucial.
Although you can raise hundreds or even thousands of dollars in product sales, they are very inefficient. Remember that if you have to buy a product to sell, you’re splitting your proceeds with the product supplier. Ultimately, you’ll make$0.50-$0.60 cents on the dollar.
Upfront cost: $
Funds Raised: Medium-High
Bang for your Buck: Medium
The smart way to run a car wash is to assign your volunteers a supply list and ask everyone to bring an item. That may not always work, so there could be some upfront expenses for materials (buckets, hoses, soap, materials to make signs etc.). For a successful car wash, you will want to do some pre-event marketing that can include creating and distributing flyers and social media posts as well as signage you will need to hang up throughout the neighborhood… very time consuming, not to mention risky when you depend on the weather. A good car wash can earn you up to $1,000 if not more. Still, the ROI isn’t high with all that goes into it.
Upfront cost: $$$
Funds Raised: High
Bang for you buck: Low-Medium
Costs can be high if you need to purchase the items being auctioned verses having them donated. Other high costs are venue rental fees/service fees, marketing costs, food and beverage, possibly hiring an MC, etc.
If you aren’t buying all of the items, which saves you money, you will have to go out and solicit businesses to donate them. This is very time consuming and can require multiple touch points to acquire a single item for the auction. Then, there is the event management component. Lining up the venue, the food and the overall experience as well as marketing efforts and costs can be tough. There could also be costs associated with getting the item to the person who won it if they don’t take it on the spot (car, trip, furniture, etc.).
An auction can raise a lot of money (into the tens of thousands in some cases) if you can get through the logistics beforehand. With associated costs and effort being very high, the overall ROI is low.
Upfront cost: None
Funds Raised: High
Bang for you buck: High
Fundraising today doesn’t have to be a cumbersome task. Taking your fundraiser online allows you a lot of customization (landing pages, emails and social media posts), the ability to expand your reach beyond your local community, keeps costs low, and you can be up and running in minutes. Generally speaking there is no up front cost to an online fundraiser. Online fundraisers are not only easy to use, but your potential reach for donors is unlimited. There is no product for them to buy, no event to attend, so you could be in Florida and raise funds from someone in California. With friends and family all over the country online platforms makes the ask relevant, which increases how much you can raise.
Another big perk is the ability to recruit a team to help your cause—the responsibility is no longer JUST with you. Upload contact lists to easily email them your story and ask, easily replicate your campaign for future fundraisers, market on social media and so on. Over the course of a few weeks you’ll have to spend a few minutes here and there sending out emails and posting on social media, but you probably do things just like that every day anyway. Since you can raise thousands with an online fundraiser, the ROI here is high.
If you want to learn more about online fundraising platforms, check out Edco—exclusively for the K-12 community or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.